Early next month, the 2,000 pound Curiosity rover will finally touch down on the surface of Mars and just doing that will require one of the most ingenious and daring landings that NASA has yet attempted. Now, Earthlings can try their hand at conquering the “seven minutes of terror” with a new Kinect game for Xbox. Unlike the space program, this one is completely free!
The game, awkwardly named Mars Rover Landing, is available now on the Xbox marketplace. Using the Kinect, players navigate Curiosity through three stages of descent, each one progressively more difficult. The finally stage involves the completely insane Skyhook Maneuver, where the enormous rover is lowered by cable from a hovering rocket carriage.
In addition to the game, NASA is also offering a Xbox dashboard portal that will provide information about the mission and stream NASA TV on landing day.
As far as the game is concerned, it looks pretty darn well made — which was the first hurtle it would need to cross for people to take the game, or the mission, seriously. It does seem extremely short, but that also makes it unobtrusive. The goal, after all, is to get people interested and involved in the mission — not give them Martian fetchquests. However, my one concern is that the game may belittle the actual effort that went in to landing Curiosity. Hopefully that won’t be the case.
For those unfamiliar with the harrowing, seven minute hellride that will deliver Curiosity to the Martian surface, NASA has prepared this wonderfully cinematic video. Sit back, relax, and let your jaw drop.
- Here’s a picture from Curiosity, from inside its spacecraft
- Russia’s Mars lander didn’t make it beyond Earth orbit before crashing back to Earth
- Curiosity blasts off for Mars